Mercury spill shuts down Manila school

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CLASSES at the Manila Science High School (MSHS) were suspended indefinitely to allow authorities to clean up a mercury spill at the school’s laboratory that happened on March 11 but was only reported on March 21.
Reports said five students and one faculty member were taken to hospital because of the incident.

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The Department of Health said mercury levels in the school reached 3,758 nanograms per cubic meter, which is beyond the tolerable level of 200 nanograms per cubic meter.
But these were denied by school officials.

Manila City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MCDRRMO) head Johnny Yu said the spill originated from a stockroom inside the school’s laboratory. Several faculty members and students were cleaning the room when the spill occurred.

“Mercury leaked from four vials, and aside from that, based on the report, there were small boxes of unknown radioactive materials with Chinese letters,” he said.

The city government of Manila sent personnel from the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) to clean the campus. Authorities coordinated with the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR) for the disposal of the chemicals.

BFP officials said the situation is “under control” and the chemicals have been placed in a sealed container.
MSHS Principal Maria Eva Nacion however denied that a faculty and some students were hospitalized.

One parent who attended the news briefing called by school said all those exposed to the mercury spill are “fine.”

“They are fine and okay. They underwent blood extraction and we are awaiting the results,” he said.

Dr. Visitacion Antonio of the East Avenue Medical Center, who represented the DOH, said no teacher was harmed.

“There is no teacher who was affected. We examined on Tuesday the two students and two teachers and also the pregnant teacher because she was also there,” she told reporters.

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